Board Game Crate - First box, first look
I love getting interesting things in the mail. Unfortunately most of the mail that comes through my door comprises of credit card offers and kebab pricing leaflets, neither of which are interesting at all. Unless you want to get into heaps of debt by buying slowly rotating meat. I do a lot of shopping online but then I already know what is coming, which doesn't give the same sense of mystery as seeing something turn up that you genuinely have no idea what it could be. I feel like I am not alone in this regard, and that must be why there are now so many subscription style services for all kinds of interesting things to get delivered to your door. There are craft beer subscriptions, meal plan subscriptions, make-up boxes, even digital video games on humble bundle come as a blind box of goodies once a month. And it's this market that Board Game Crate have stepped into.
Board Game Crate are a UK based company that have been around since the back half of 2016, and offer a monthly, blind box style subscription service to our favourite cardboard based hobby. I had a chance to meet the guys very briefly at UKGE and have a look at their offering, and it seemed their previous boxes were full of a mixture of well known big box games, gateway gaming staples, and smaller and lesser known titles. It seemed like a good mix, and something that would definitely be interesting to receive to the door every month.
To make sure that you always get something new, when you sign up you hand over your Board Game Geek user name, and they check your collection to make sure what you will receive isn't something you already own, which takes a lot of the worry away from a service like this. They also, apparently, take into account your wish list items if you have any, which is useful if those things are up to date. If you don't have a collection up to date on BGG, then it would definitely be better to make one before subscribing. Generally you are going to receive 2 games in the box, a bigger box and a smaller box, and if either of them are something you already own, that would feel pretty terrible and massively diminish the value proposition.
Speaking of value, the subscription tiers are currently £40 for a month-by-month recurring sub, £105 for 3 months pre-paid, £205 for 6 months, and £400 for a year. This is higher than most other subscription services but reflects the cost of shipping big ol' board game boxes, as well as the general pricing of current board games. However I think this might take it slightly out of range of the impulse buyer thinking "oh let's give it a go then". I like the random element, and I think that's a real bonus to me, and will get me exposed to more games I would not have played or purchased otherwise, but if you don't feel the same then paying the price of a game you carefully selected, for 2 games you might not want probably won't appeal.
After careful (hah!) consideration, I decided to sign up for a 3 month subscription based on the previous boxes looking interesting and my need for random, cool mail arriving at my house once a month. The first months crate arrived this week and came in a nice well packaged box. I was slightly disappointed it wasn't in an actual crate, but I guess shipping big wooden crates would make the whole thing massively more expensive.
I opened it up to find my duo of new games, and a tiny bag with a couple of D12s in. Can never have enough dice. The bigger box game was the dice version of a well regarded modern classic, Istanbul: The Dice Game (7.2 rating on BGG, £23.14 on Amazon as of writing) and the small box game was one I hadn't heard of, Food Truck Champion (6.8 rating on BGG, £22.84 on Amazon as of writing). I have yet to play Istanbul but I have heard a lot about it, and it really is a game that I would like to give a go, and would have been likely to give a go at a convention or a board game cafe, so that one is a win. Food Truck Champion looks quite charming, the art and theme really come through on the box and the cards when unpacking it. This was one I would definitely not have thought twice about had I seen online, but once you have it in your hands it does seem quite cool.
So overall, 2 games that I think seem interesting, one that was on my radar that I might have purchased and played eventually and one that I definitely wouldn't have but looks good. Taking a look at the pricing, the box cost roughly £33 (It was £100/3mo when I signed up last month) and the current Amazon prices of both add up to £45.98, which is not a bad saving. Obviously it's only realllly a saving if you enjoy the games, and I'm sure both can be had slightly cheaper elsewhere online or in a local store, but I feel like I personally got my moneys worth with this box, which is all you can hope for each month. The dice were also a nice touch, something small that adds not much overall value, but is just cool to have received.
Overall, have to say I'm quite happy with the first box. The best compliment I can give is that I am looking forward to playing both the games I received, and looking forward to next months box already. Hopefully will play both very shortly and have some pictures and words up about them soon.
Obviously all this comes with the caveat that, you're mileage may vary, but for me personally, one happy customer so far.
Disclaimer: I purchased my Board Game Crate subscription myself at no discount. I am a full, normal, paying customer.